Last we heard from Tony Stark (billionaire, industrialist, inventor, genius, and physical specimen) he admitted to being Iron Man, savior of the planet, democracy and a few dozen other small things. Now, he is suffering from a near debilitating disease caused by the reactor that sustains his body/life force. Corroding if he does, disempowered if he doesn’t, what a dilemma. He is also waging war with his alleged best friend Lt. Colonel Rhodes, business competitor Justin Hammer, and mentally insane Russian physicist Ivan Vanko. Rhodes used to be played by the ever-talented and insanely compelling Terrence Howard. He has been replaced by the most boring man in the universe (other than Favreau of course), the flailing Don Cheadle. He destroys the role and makes the "Rhodey" character despicable. Toward the middle, Rhodey decides Tony is uncooperative with Congress and is not the rightful protector or wearer of the Iron Man suite. Having never flown it before and not having any prior experience operating it he steals a suit, annihilates Stark, collapses his mansion and retrieves the Iron Man technology for the U.S. military against his best friend’s wishes. With friends like that who the hell needs friends?
Aspiring industrialist Hammer is played by Sam Rockwell, an actor chosen for his ability (and he does this quite successfully) to seem smarmy, shady, and sadistic in the most unsatisfactory way possible. Basically, he completely and utterly sucks. Listening to his sotto-voce ramblings and pussified verses is enough to send moviegoers home and as quickly as though somebody had yelled fire in a crowded theater.
To the meat and potatoes of why Iron Man 2 is a contender for biggest blunder in the history of super hero movies (of course people, we could never forget Hellboy 2!) is none other than Mickey Rourke. Sure the picture will gross 100+ million opening weekend. This is Mother’s Day weekend and a movie of this magnitude, at least superficially and potentially can be a smash hit under these fortuitous circumstances anytime. Rourke impressed me in The Wrestler. His steroids wore off. His body has become old. His shtick is unwelcome. He is dressed to look like an Asiatic barbarian, or a Mongol of the Genghis Khan variety. He plays the role of Ivan Vanko. His father dies and Ivan blames Howard and Tony Stark for thieving his dad’s reactor technology. On account of this he smuggles himself into a French grand prix race where Stark is a contestant and obliterates the entire field of racers. He slices Stark’s car in half with electrified whips powered by a primitive version of Iron Man’s reactor. After being captured he is not killed or harmed in any way. Instead he is easily broken out of prison by the Hammer. What does Hammer want? To put Stark out of business by building millions or Iron Man suits. What does Ivan ask for in return for his technological know-how? His bird that is still theoretically alive in Russia despite being unfed for weeks. Seriously, this is his price. His motivation is virtually non-existent, his worldview is indeed primitive and small-minded and his character is a ginormous waste of my (forgive my Al Pacino pilfery) motherfucking time.
So, to recap, Favreau has brought us the utter ruin of the Iron Man persona, the destruction of the Rhodey character, two villains who are like gangrenous legs, lame and useless to be more exact, and a plot that is more reminiscent of the latest attempt at G.I. Joe than it is like Batman or Superman. Did I mention Gwyneth Paltrow, a.k.a. "Pepper" is now C.E.O. of Stark Industries?
Eventually, Scarlett Johansson and personal favorite Samuel L. Jackson come to the rescue for a few moments and add some real spice to the movie. Unfortunately even their best shot is not enough to counteract the blandness brought on by the biggest idiot in Hollywood history, Jon Favreau. I recommend that if you have not already wasted your money please wait for the reviews to come out and the DVD release, hell the HBO release before giving up over two hours of your time. I regret losing a minute of my time and a nickel of my money on this bloated monstrosity. Oops.
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